April 14, 2011 | by Mark Lee
A vote for Mara is a vote for diversity

A vote for Patrick Mara on Tuesday, April 26, in the special election open to all registered voters to fill the D.C. Council At-Large seat formerly held by the now Council chair, is a vote for diversity in local government and a much-needed addition of a fresh and independent voice on a dais filled with long-serving entrenched members of a single political hierarchy.

Not only that, a vote for Patrick Mara is an affirmation of his strong and unwavering support for the LGBT community. In fact, Mara is the only candidate on the ballot who testified in favor of marriage equality during Council consideration of legislation last year when Washington joined five states in extending legal recognition to same-sex couples desiring to marry. He then went to Capitol Hill to successfully lobby Republican congressional representatives not to intervene in this local legislative determination.

Who can forget the painful public process that Democratic candidate and former Council member Vincent Orange, leading this race in a recent citywide poll, underwent morphing from opposing marriage equality to announcing that he supported it when he was a candidate for Council chair in last year’s Democratic primary?

Equally important, Patrick will bring a remedial perspective to a Council responsible for lavish spending habits and lack of government agency oversight leading to a budget deficit totaling nearly half-a-billion dollars. He recently referred to the current Council at a community forum as treating local businesses “as piggybanks.”

Mara understands that increasing individual and small business taxes and fees above already excruciatingly high levels — among the worst in the nation — is a prescription for nothing except allowing this fiscal folly to continue and postponing financial disaster. He knows that will merely intensify the negative impact on city services and the social safety net when the day of reckoning arrives.

Most days it seems only Ward 2 Council member Jack Evans — representing the Dupont Circle, Logan Circle and Shaw areas where many of the District’s gay and lesbian voters reside — worries about the return of a federal control board to pick up the pieces after the city’s leadership forces our city back into bankruptcy.

Patrick also opposes excessive over-regulation of community small businesses, instead supporting a common-sense approach and a positive economic environment to help them survive and thrive. He knows that local businesses create jobs for residents, improve the local economy, increase the tax base and enhance the quality of life in our neighborhoods.

The Washington Post recently quoted Mara as saying that he would not be beholden to special interests if elected to office. “What would they do, threaten not to endorse me?” he asked. “Because they aren’t endorsing me now.”

In a place where local officials transparently conduct business and propose legislation at the behest of narrow special interest groups, Mara’s reform-minded independence is refreshing.

Recently appointed “incumbent” candidate Sekou Biddle – incredulously, selected under a D.C. law allowing the Democratic State Committee to fill the seat in a series of closed-door late-night votes that struck observers as reminiscent of old-style Soviet apparatchik secret sessions – both trails in the polls and suffers among voters due to his endorsement by Mayor Gray and Council Chair Kwame Brown.

A newcomer to citywide politics, Biddle also has the support of — you guessed it! — a majority of Council members. Why rock the sinking ship when you can still fit one more of your own crewmembers aboard?

Patrick is a fiscally responsible and socially progressive Republican who fully and without qualification supports LGBT equality and fairness running for a Council seat in a city where Democrats essentially enjoy one-party rule and elected party officeholders suffer little fear of serious political challenge or diversified legislative perspectives.

However, in a low turnout special election, a dynamic and popular independent candidate like Mara can win.

Patrick Mara has earned the vote of the LGBT community by his consistently rock-solid support without political hesitation. His election will inject political diversity, accountability and a no-nonsense independent voice on the Council – as well as a fresh new look at the path to the best future for our city.

Patrick Mara deserves our support on April 26. He will get the vote of this life-long registered Democrat.

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